Elton John (Mar. 25, 1947)
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Elton doesn't write lyrics, his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin takes care of that. They met through a want-ad in a British music trade paper, and someone at the publishing company where they both applied connected them, since Elton needed a lyricist and Bernie needed someone to write music. Taupin would deliver lyrics to John in bundles, and Elton would fit tunes to them. He wouldn't even ask Bernie what the songs were about, and Taupin claims that there are some songs Elton thinks are about him, but are actually about Bernie.
Before he was a solo artist, John was in a group called Bluesology. They were a backing group for Blues singers from America that toured England (like Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles). They were hired by Baldry in 1966 as his backing band. John coproduced an album of his in 1971.
John's original name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The name Elton comes from Elton Dean, a Bluesology sax player. John comes from Long John Baldry, a British R&B singer and founder of Blues Inc. In 1974, he made Elton Hercules John his legal name. Hercules was the name of the horse in the British comedy series Steptoe and Son, which he enjoyed. (Thanks, Vincent - Wales, UK)
He won a piano scholarship when he was 11 to the Royal Academy of Music.
When John auditioned for Liberty Records, they liked his performance, but not his songs. So they gave a bunch of Taupin's lyrics, and that's how the two met. Other famous John auditions: rock groups King Crimson and Gentle Giant. He was rejected from both.
Has played piano on records by many different artists including George Harrison, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr, the Hollies, and Bob Dylan.
John's American debut at Los Angeles' Troubadour featured handstands on his piano and members of the Spencer Davis Group backing him. He was an instant critical success.
As a child, John didn't need glasses, but wore them anyway to look like Buddy Holly. They damaged his eyes so much that he was soon forced to wear them.
After he topped a poll by Cadbury to find Britain's favorite personality, Madame Tussaud's Was Museum in London made a statue of Elton out of 227lbs (126kgs) of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate. He's the first solo rock star to get a wax portrait made by Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. The Beatles were the first Rock band. (thanks, Adam - Wrexham, Wales)
His 1975 album, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirty Cowboy, was his first to enter the US charts at #1. His 1975 album, Rock of the Westies, was his second.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 by Guns 'N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose, who calls John a major influence.
Taupin and John give a lot of their British royalties to AIDS charities. It's one of several things he has done for AIDS research. Others included auctioning off his record collection, hosting Oscar parties, and organizing an auction for a date with supermodel Cindy Crawford.
John was made an Officer of Arts and Letters by France, one of their highest distinctions.
At one point, John was responsible for 3% of all records sold on the planet.
In 1976 he admitted that he was bisexual. An initial negative response to that prompted a semi-reclusive state by John.
He was well known in the mid-'70s for his outrageous clothing (especially eyeglasses) in his live sets. He had a $40,000 collection of clothes.
He appeared as the Pinball Wizard in the film version of the Who's Tommy. After convincing Rod Stewart to turn down the role, he took it for himself and also asked if he could keep the large boots that he wore for the part. (thanks, Adam - Wrexham, Wales)
Elton married studio engineer Renate Blauel in 1984, surprising many people who thought he was gay. He was. They divorced four years later.
John characterizes 1989-1990 as the worst time period of his life. He had become close friends with AIDS victim Ryan White, who died in 1990. He had just gotten divorced. His lover forced him to check into a hospital for drug abuse and bulimia. He even auctioned off most of his old belongings, including many of his old clothes.
Duets with Elton John that hit #1 on the Hot 100: "Bad Blood" (Neil Sedaka - EJ not credited), "Whatever Gets You Thru the Nite" (John Lennon - EJ not credited), "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (Elton John and Kiki Dee), "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (George Michael and Elton John), and also "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne and Friends (Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John). (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 shortly after the death of Princess Diana. Sir Elton John was a close friend of the Royal Family, and offered emotional support after the tragic incident. He re-wrote the lyrics to "Candle in the Wind" in Diana's honor. Because of his close friendship with the Royal Family, he refuses to play that version at concerts. (thanks, Patrick - Conyers, GA)
When he performed there for the 60th time on his 60th birthday, he set the record for the most performances at New York's Madison Square Garden. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Elton John is unwilling to wear a backstage pass, as the rider for The Elton John One Man Show reveals.
He ranks #1 in Billboard's 2011 list of the top Adult Contemporary Artists Of All Time. He had 16 #1 AC hits by the time the list was compiled. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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